Sheffield United prepare their young guns for Premier League swansong

Paul Heckingbottom, Sheffield United’s caretaker manager, says he will have no concerns about selecting more of the club’s youngsters in his squad for Sunday’s match against Burnley.

By James Shield
Thursday, 20th May 2021, 4:30 pm

The visit of Sean Dyche’s side marks the end of what has been a punishing season at Bramall Lane, with United surrendering their Premier League status following two years at the highest level.

Having taken charge on an interim basis following Chris Wilder’s departure in March, Heckingbottom’s policy of blooding development squad graduates such as Daniel Jebbison, Iliman Ndiaye and Kyron Gordon has provided some much needed positivity since United’s relegation was confirmed.

Femi Seriki, previously of Bury, made his first team debut at Newcastle on Wednesday night while Harry Boyes joined him, Gordon and Zak Brunt on the bench.

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Newcastle, England, 19th May 2021. Femi Seriki of Sheffield Utd waits to make his debut during the Premier League match at St. James's Park: Darren Staples / Sportimage

“If they’re needed, then they’re needed,” Heckingbottom said. “I don’t have any problems using them whatsoever, as I think people have seen. They are involved because they deserve to be involved. Not because we’re trying to do them a favour. They’ve still got a lot to learn, all of them, and they’re nowhere near the finished articles yet. But they all bring something to the table with them.”

Despite seeing United’s injury crisis ease of late, Heckingbottom is still preparing to be without a number of key players for the final match of the campaign. Sander Berge and George Baldock are doubts while Jack O’Connell, Billy Sharp, Oli McBurnie and Oliver Burke are definitely unavailable for selection.

“If we change things about, then we’ll be making those changes within the group that we’ve got,” Heckingbottom said. “Those youngsters are a part of that.”